Astro the Steller Sea Lion

Astro is an orphaned Steller sea lion who was found and brought to a marine mammal center on the California coast. When he'd grown big enough, his rescuers released him into the ocean to swim away and make his own way in the world. But Astro had other ideas. He'd become too attached to humans in his time at the marine center, and though they tried releasing him farther and farther away, Astro kept making his way back to civilization, once even joining a walk-a-thon taking place at a school!

When it was clear to the marine-center workers that Astro wasn't going to stay away, a new home was found for him at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, where he now lives happily.

This was a sweet children's book sent to me by its author to read and share with my son and review on the blog. Spencer asked lots of questions as I read, and I quite liked the colorful illustrations, so all in all, an enjoyable read, especially for any kids out there interested in marine life.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch

Guys. You've got to read this one.  It's totally awesome.

The tagline is "Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl!"  The book made me laugh and I particularly loved the sibling interactions, being from a big family myself.  It's just darn good storytelling is what it is.  I made Jacob read it.

Jacob says: "It left me wanting to know the rest of the story, which is a compliment!"

Yes, it is the story of how Mirka gets a sword, and I too am curious to see how she'll use it in the future.

You can read the 57 page webcomic here(ville), but I recommend just getting your hands on the book because it is the expanded (139 page) version.

Seriously though. It's in my Top 5 graphic novels. Or among my favorites, anyway. I don't think I could make a top five (or even 10) list.

Cybils Winners!

Happy less than three day! <3

Happy Interplanetary Be Who You Are Day!

Happy Singles' Awareness Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Cybils Award Announcement Day!

You can find all the winners here!  Winning the Middle Grade Fiction award (the one that Ashley and I helped to judge) is...

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger! Huzzah!  I liked it.  My Review went up in November.

How Romantic

Firelight, by Sophie Jordan.
The latest Twilight-esque book.

Jacinda is a "draki"---a dragon descendant with the ability to shift into human form. Her kind are hunted and endangered, and with her rare fire-breathing abilities, Jacinda is particularly important to her tribe. She's destined to marry and "breed" with the clan leader's son, but Jacinda's mom has other ideas. She sneaks both of her daughters away in the night and moves them to a desert town in hopes that Jacinda's inner draki will die, leaving her a normal girl, and keeping her safe from the grasping claws and horrifying future the clan has planned for her.

But Jacinda doesn't want to let go of her draki identity. She fights its withering decline, torn between a desire to please her mother and twin sister and a love for her kind. The only thing she's found in the moistureless desert that keeps her draki alive is Will.

Will is all broad-shouldered, rippling-muscled, sultry-voiced, romantic-ness incarnate. He also happens to be a Hunter---a member of the very family that killed Jacinda's father and nearly captured Jacinda herself.

They are destined to be together, yet so wrong for each other. Star-crossed lovers. *sigh*

There was something about this book that kept me reading. It was fast-paced. It was interesting. But ... it was kinda corny. So if that's your thang, by all means, read Firelight. It'll have a sequel too, to carry on where we left off with a cliffhanger ending, natch.

Matched, by Ally Condie.
And then there's Matched. Apparently the movie-production rights for both of these books have been optioned (is that the right word?), which is unsurprising and potentially fun.

Matched is so deep and lovely where Firelight feels (at times) kind of canned and two-dimensional. Set in a dystopian world, this book tells the story of Cassia, a model citizen who has been matched for marriage to her best friend and next-door neighbor Xander. But when, after the matching ceremony, another boy's face appears on her information card, her tidy life begins to crack, and Cassia has to navigate the treacherous waters of inner rebellion in a society of merciless perfection.

This book pretty much screamed The Giver, but I was okay with that. The writing---the writing! I've read an awful lot of YA books, and it's kind of rare to find a book that puts so much effort into the art, instead of focusing only on a gripping storyline. This book's got both---the grip, and the art. Highly recommended.

Shark vs. Train

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton

Maybe if I transcribe some of the gleeful exclamations of Benjamin about this book, we'll have a review that will make you want to read this imaginative book without spoiling any of the fun.

Alysa: Let's write about Shark vs. Train.
Benjamin: Lets read it! Shark bersuz Train. (Pointing to wordless page): read this words! Grr... Shark is not too heavy, Train is too heavy! The train is hot! The shark is burping!  Wemomade! Crabs not have mouths. Shark have mouth! Silly wemomade. Trick-or-treating... Having some ice cream. I want to ride on the train. Play hide and seek. Mommy and a Daddy. Light is off. Mom Mommy Mom! Playing a game. Holding that, holding those. That is a TV. Mommy listen! That is the little 'boose! It's too far away. Riding motorcycles! Boys, lunch!

There you have it! Hilariously written, stupendously illustrated, a Cybils finalist this year, among many other accolades.

And then, as he sees me add the cover image to this review:
It's Shark bersuz train! Yay! Mom, clap! (Mom obliges.) Mom, it's a book.
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