Clear the Queue

Okay, I'm hitting Cybils graphic novel nominations hard and fast. So I want to tell you about a few books I read before the nominations closed. All three I recommend, but I'll order them in strongest to weakest recommendation.

Forest Born by Shannon Hale. I simply savored this one. It might be my favorite of the Bayern books now. I don't know. . . it's been so long since I read The Goose Girl, which would be it's main contender. Anyway. I was able to relate to Rin in her quest. She goes out into the world not seeking something, but trying to figure herself out and trying to figure out how she should act. At various times I've had similar feelings of ultimate power and of utter disappointment in myself. And then it was so fun to go on a quest with the girls and not worry about boys for a book. :) Don't get me wrong, I love boys. But Hale does a great job of making things interesting, entertaining, suspenseful, and thought provoking without adding a romance into the mix. Highly recommended, especially to fans of Hale.

And Only to Decieve by Tasha Alexander. Okay, one of the blurbs on the back of this book said "If Jane Austen had written The DaVinci Code, it would be this book." That made me laugh. I have to say that after reading it, I wonder if the blurber wrote that at midnight when the brain becomes more squishy. But, it was a fun read. The plot is much more romantically driven than a reference to DaVinci Code would make you think. It's more like the Luxe books, actually, except with less drama and dirt (phew!). The mystery was mysterious, but the culprit was easy to spot. Still it was quite fun to read. It's very multidimensional on the romance level, and not at all a bodice ripper. Also all the references to Homer made me wish I'd paid better attention in High School. Here's the review (with excellent non-spoiler synopsis) that made me want to read it.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike. This one is pretty popular right now, from what I understand. I mean, I think it's been optioned for a movie starring Miley Cyrus. Whether or not you like Miley Cyrus, I think you know that's a big deal. And I have to say, if they make the movie, I want to see it. I want to see if they tighten things up a bit. It's a very plot-based (versus character-based) book. So my biggest problem with it was that the main character did something totally off-kilter. I understand that its important that the fairy secret not get out, but the reason she gives for keeping it in, I just can't buy. So, maybe that'll change with the movie and I'll be able to enjoy it more. I thought the premise was super cool, and the writing was very nice. That one bit of character motivation is my only hang up. Teen and pre-teen girls will enjoy this one, and I liked it too.

Winter's Tail---and a giveaway!

Post by Ashley
When Winter, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, was found trapped with her tail badly damaged, she was not expected to survive. This is her miraculous story, from her rescue to learning how to swim again to her unprecedented success using a prosthetic tail. This is also a celebration of her indomitable spirit.


Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again is a sweet, nonfiction read that's perfect for kids who love sea animals or who may themselves be facing a difficult challenge and need a little inspiration. Winter's story is universally appealing, and the book itself is well-constructed with beautiful photographs of the dolphin's adventures, beginning when she was found by a fisherman tangled in a trap line. While I would've often liked more details (it's a cool story!---I wanted to know more about the specifics of it all), perhaps the generalities will inspire kids to get on the Internet or go to the library to learn more---more about how Winter's trainer taught her to move her tail up and down instead of side to side, more about how the prosthetics expert developed a tail that could mimic a real dolphin's, more about how Winter swims now that she's trained with her new tail for a long time. Any book that inspires kids to do better or learn more is a great book indeed. Thumbs up for Winter's Tail.

So now to the giveaway. One lucky randomly selected commenter will receive the following totally awesome Winter's Tail prize package:
*Dolphin plush
*Dolphin key chain
*Winter's Tail game for Nintendo DS (seriously!)
*Copy of Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again book (naturally)
And in case the list isn't tantalizing enough, here's a picture of the prizes.

You have two weeks from today to comment on this post (deadline being November 10, 11:59 p.m.). One comment per person, please. And please be sure to include your e-mail address so that we can contact you if you've won. Tell your friends and fam about this giveaway too---we think it's pretty cool!

And check out the book trailer here:

If that's not enough Winter excitement for you, Scholastic is also holding an essay contest for young readers ages 6-14. Check out the details below if you're interested.

Scholastic wants to hear about an animal that has most inspired your children by having them tell us about their favorite animal hero in 200 words or less.

One grand prize winner and his/her guardian will receive a trip to visit Winter at her home in Clearwater, Florida, one night's stay at a hotel, $500 travel voucher, a Winter prize pack and a Nintendo DS Game system! 10 runners up with receive a copy of Winter's Tail, a Winter's Tail Nintendo DS game and a Winter plush doll!

Send entries to:
Scholastic's Meet Winter the Dolphin Contest
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

Each entry must include student's name, age, and grade; teacher's name; and school name, address, and phone number.

All entries must be received by November 30, 2009. Winners will be announced on or around December 14th. No purchase necessary. Open to legal residences of 50 United States and D.C. ages 6-14 as of November 30th 2009. Void where prohibited. Click here for complete contest rules. Or go here for the PDF.

Colonel Trash Truck

I recently received a copy of this book from its publisher to review on Everead. So here goes.

I am not a five-year-old boy. So it wasn't my favorite. But if you are a five-year-old boy, you just might like this book.

Colonel Trash Truck is a save-the-day garbage-crushing hero who's helping to clean the world, one piece of trash at a time. The book is meant to inspire kids to "think green" and not litter.


The book is written in rhyme, which occasionally feels forced, particularly the page about cleaning up your "boogies" and "loogies" and not picking your nose. I had a hard time seeing the connection between nose-picking and garbage trucks---technically, using a tissue actually creates more trash, right?

For me, the book mostly missed the mark---lots of very similar illustrations of Col. Trash Truck driving here and there down the street picking up garbage, and sometimes trite rhyming schemes that also weren't entirely accurate. (It often seems to imply that garbage trucks go around cleaning up all garbage, not just the stuff in the cans that you leave on the curb. Could this actually send kids the wrong message? That littering is naughty, but it's really okay, because garbage trucks will "even come pick up the scum left by your little brother"?)

In any case, if you've got a young kid, likely male, who really likes garbage trucks and likes to think about the environment, this could be a fun book for him. That's my take.

Lunch Lady!

Bold. Brave. Fearless.

Outfitted with gadgets galore!

She's...Lunch Lady!

Oh, I had so much fun reading the first two Lunch Lady books by Jarrett J Krosoczka. They are just too funny! And the crime fighting is top notch. The first one is Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. The second, Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians.

These books are perfect for Babymouse fans like me: they're about the same size and length, and are suspenseful as well as silly. I love the two color (three color?) pallette: black and yellow (and white.)
Does white count? Anyway. The use of the color was so skillful! It really draws your eye to the important parts of the panel and aids in the visual read. There are so many different shades of yellow, you know? I would even go so far as to say that Krosoczka evokes mood with his use of the color. Very nice.

If I didn't already have my costume all planned, I'd totally be Lunch Lady for Halloween. Next year, next year.


Wonderland, Tommy Kovac, Sonny Liew

Wonderland. As in Alice in. Except this time, without Alice. Who is that dark haired maiden on the cover? None other than Mary Ann, the maid that the white rabbit mistook Alice for. In Mary Ann's absence, Alice has been to wonderland. Now our heroine has to deal with the aftermath.

Quirky and fun (of course quirky!), this one kept me entertained. The illustration style distracted me a bit for the first few pages (I found myself dissecting the amount of texture on the page and the Queen of Hearts' big mouth). But once I got into it, it was quite fun.

Published by Disney, the book assumes you've watched the Disney version of the story. The characters look similar to movie's but aren't exactly the same. It was fun to see some familiar faces and know what to expect from them, but also fun to be introduced to new characters. My last reading of the actual Lewis Carroll was so long ago that I consider these guys new, anyway.

Plenty of the dark and spooky, plenty of the zany and funny. I'm a fan.

Babymouse: Dragonslayer!

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I love Babymouse. So I was pretty excited that Babymouse: Dragonslayer was nominated for the Cybils this year. (So was Babymouse: The Musical, yay!)

So, I rushed out and got it! And it did not disappoint. It is chock full of fantasy allusions both general and specific. For instance, the book starts with a map. :D And there is a babymouse daydream sequence in which she has huge, hairy hobbit feet. Ha! What is this dragon that Babymouse has to overcome? MATH! The Fighting Fractions, of which Babymouse is the newest member, must overcome the Owlgorithms to win back the Golden Slide Rule!

I liked the theme of the book -- it was very encouraging, but it was so tongue-in-cheek, so silly, that it wasn't cheesy at all. Two thumbs up for Babymouse #11!
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