Posted in Picture Books

Do Not Build a Frankenstein by Neil Numberman

6457866Do Not Build a Frankenstein
Neil Numberman
2009 Greenwillow Books
ISBN – 9780061568169
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler Preschool
4 Stars

The new boy in town stands up and gives the other kids some very important advice. They should under no circumstances build a Frankenstein! Although they seem like fun at first, they can become very irritating. For instance they may break your toys, try to scare you, and always follow you around. As he screams one last time “DO NOT BUILD A FRANKENSTEIN!” the monster hears his name and comes running! Then he starts up a game of tag and all of the kids join!

This is a pretty cute book. My favorite part is the pictures. Frankenstein as portrayed in this book is pretty goofy looking, not scary at all. He seems like loads of fun, although the little boy does a good job of pointing out the negatives. However, what little kid could possible pass up playing tag with this fun and goofy looking giant?!?  The expressions on the young boy’s face is truly passionate, and heartfelt as he pleads to the town children. It might be a fun question to ask kids what they would do if they had their own personal Frankenstein. This one is sure to get some laughs.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

11595276The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Emily M. Danforth
2012 Balzer + Bray
ISBN – 9780062020567
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
5 Stars

Cameron Post is 12 years old the first time she kisses another girl. The very next day both of her parents die in a car crash. She then moves in with her conservative religious Aunt as well as her Grandmother. At the start of high school she explores her sexuality through a few different relationships, some same sex, one opposite. She falls in love with Coley Taylor the new girl at school, and has a summer of fun and romance. As the summer progresses their relationship grows more serious and more physical. Everything seems to be going great, until Coley tells Cameron’s Aunt what is happening. In a fit of panic, her Aunt decides to send her to one of those Christian schools that are designed to “cure homosexuality.” During the first year at the program Cameron battles with her feelings about her parent’s death, her friend’s betrayal, and her own identity.

 

This book was truly fantastic. It was happy, sad, frustrating, and just plain heart breaking. It is honestly and beautifully written, and leaves me wondering how Emily Danforth is connected to this story. It just doesn’t seem as it was completely out of her imagination. One of my favorite parts of this book is how wonderful the character of Cameron Post is described and built. She is a lot like me when I was in high school, being just one of the guys, being into sports, she seems like someone I might have hung out with. I think that may have made the story that much more intense for me. I will give one disclaimer…Although the story is about a young teen girl, parts are  a bit sexually graphic, which doesn’t bother me, but may not be for all readers. Overall a truly inspiring book!

Posted in Picture Books

The Baby That Roared by Simon Puttock

12900361The Baby That Roared
Simon Puttock
Illustrated by Nadia Shireen
2012 Nosy Crow
ISBN – 9780763659035
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler, Preschool
4.5 Stars

 

Mr. and Mrs. Deer had no baby, but they really wanted one. Then one day they came home to find a baby on their doorstep. A note was attached that read “I am a dear little baby. Please love me and cuddle me and read me lots and lots of stories.” Mr. and Mrs. Deer were so happy to finally have a baby but the baby kept roaring. Something must have been wrong. So they called friends, family, and the doctor, but each time the person disappeared, and the baby kept roaring. Finally they called Granny Bear, who decided the baby just needed to be burped. Guess what came up!

What a fantastic book! It is hilarious, and possibly suspenseful for the younger crowd. Where could all the helpful people gone? The illustrations are super funny as well. The colors are bright and the pictures large and easy to see. Each character has gigantic eyes, and expressive features that will make any kid laugh. The text varies in size and font throughout the book based on the tone. I really enjoyed how all of the characters play dumb throughout the entire book. This allows children readers to feel smarter than the adult, and the animals in the book.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf

10814693The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic
Allan Wolf
2011 Candlewick Press
ISBN – 9780763637033
Genre – Historical Fiction, Novel in Verse
Age – High School
5 Stars

 

As The Titanic prepares to set out to sea on its maiden voyage, several different passengers, crew members, and other acting agents speak out from their unique points of view. The captain, the baker, first class passengers, third class passengers, and even the iceberg among many others tell the story of The Titanic from her departure from land to her nighttime disaster.

OK, so we all know the story of The Titanic, but not like this. Somehow the book succeeds in being dramatic and suspenseful, despite this fact. I am pretty picky about the poetry I like, and have honestly never really enjoyed novels in verse, however, this one is incredible. It reads much like a story in quotes. It is written eloquently, but not in your stereotypical poetic manner, which works for me. It takes quite a bit of talent to put together  viewpoints like this in an order that tells a story in a way that makes sense. The many different characters really help to gain a well-rounded understanding of the voyage of The Titanic. There just really isn’t enough I can say about this book. Truly Excellent!

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

6457229The Monstrumologist
Rick Yancey
2009 Simon and Schuster
ISBN – 9781416984481
Genre – Horror
Age – High School
4.5 Stars

 

Will Henry is an orphan who lives with one of the country’s most esteemed monstrumologists, that is he studies monsters. One night a grave robber appears at their house late at night with an interesting specimen, an Anthopophagi. This creature, native to Africa, feeds on humans, and poses quite a threat to the community of New Jerusalem. Will Henry and his guardian Pellinore Warthrop set out on an adventure to find the Anthropophagi and destroy them before they destroy the human population.

 

This is such a creative book, and my first YA monster read. It completely captured my attention with its Gothic feel. Although I am not an expert on the time period of the late 1800’s it seemed very believable. I felt like I was there. I enjoyed the underlying theme of both Will Henry and Warthrop constantly seeking the approval of their father figures. Throughout the book it was obvious that every action and inaction was to prove their worth. So now the good stuff…What a gory book! Seriously, there are parts of the book that I cringed a bit. Other factors include betrayal, death, slime, sacrifice, and bodily worm infestations! Winning!

Posted in Picture Books

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

766020The Rainbow Fish
Marcus Pfister
1992 North South
ISBN – 9781558580091
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4.5 Stars

 

There was one fish in the sea who was the most beautiful of all. He had rainbow and shiny silver scales. All of the other fish wanted to play with the rainbow fish, but he was too proud and swam around showing off his beautiful scales. One day another fish politely asked him for one of his silver scales. When the rainbow fish would not give him one,  the little fish told everyone how mean rainbow fish was. Although he knew he was beautiful, rainbow fish was lonely and unhappy. He sought out the wise octopus to find out why no one liked him. The wise octopus told him that he must share his silver scales, and even though he may no longer be the most beautiful fish, he will find happiness.

This book is all around beautiful. The water colored illustrations are in rich cool colors, with a hint of sparkle on every page. The rainbow fish’s silver scales are actually holographic, which gives the pictures an added dimension. The story is also a great lesson about friendship and sharing. In the beginning the fish is too vain, and no one wants to be his friend, but when he humbles himself and shares his beauty, he finds many friends and great happiness! Good life lesson.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

12394100Seraphina
Rachel Hartman
2012 Random House
ISBN – 9780375866562
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Young Adult
4.5 Stars

 

Seraphina lives in world where dragons and humans coexist. A treaty was signed between the populations forty years ago, yet there are still issues between the two. Seraphina is an interesting case as she is half dragon, half human. Her mother who died when she was a baby was a dragon. The anniversary of the treaty approaches and a big festivity is planned. However, it seems that some dragons may be planning to overturn the treaty and attack humans. Throughout the story Seraphina comes to terms with relationships from her uncle who is a dragon, her father who is trying to hide her identity, and the man she loves who is set to marry the princess. Can Seraphina help to keep the peace, and will she be strong enough to show the world her true identity?

This is the first YA dragon book I have read, and I must say I am pleasantly surprised. The story is well fleshed out, and the characters are complex. The descriptions of the dragons are also well thought out, not only in their physical appearance, but in their mental and emotions states as well. One thing I really appreciated about this book is that although Seraphina is obviously in love, she is still a strong character. She is not a weak, sniveling girl in love, and the writing proves this. She is brave, yet not without her faults. Even though she is half dragon, her emotions and actions make her a well rounded believable character. Truly great book!

Posted in Picture Books

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

595586Bark, George
Jules Feiffer
1999 Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN – 9780062051851
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler, Preschool
4.5 Stars

George’s mother asked him to bark one day, and instead he meowed. She explains to him that cats meow, and asks him to bark again. Instead he quacks. After making several different animal noises including a pig and a cow, she decides something is wrong and takes him to the vet. The doctor quickly diagnoses George when he meows and pulls a cat out of his stomach. Then when he quacks next, he pulls a duck out of his stomach, and so on!

I adore this book. Not only are the illustrations simple and amazing, it is great for a wide range of ages. I tend to have a hard time falling in love with books appropriate for toddlers, but this one wins my heart. This is great for getting a laugh out of kids. They know what noises the dog should make, and this helps them to identify other animal noises. It also allows the reader to be playfully wrong so the child can correct them. We all know kids love it when adults are wrong. The idea of a doctor pulling several animals out of another is quirky, and just wait until you reach the end!

Posted in Picture Books

The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

385250The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters
Janet and Allan Ahlberg
1986 Little, Brown and Company
ISBN – 9780316126441
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool, Early Elementary
4 Stars

 

The postman delivers letters for famous story characters including the three bears, the wicked witch, the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, and more.

I like this book because some pages are formatted like the front of an envelope, and when you turn the page, you can open it up and find actual letters. It allows children to get a different perspective on well known fairy tales. It also shows kids what the format of letters are like, and how to compose them for themselves. The illustrations are funny and detailed. It gives readers a lot to observe.

 

 

Posted in Adult Literature, Young Adult Lit

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

12851538Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein
2012 Hyperion Books
ISBN – 9781423152194
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – High School, Adult
2.5 Stars

 

During WWII a British plane crashes in France, and its passenger, Verity, is captured by the Gestapo. She faces a tough decision, reveal the secrets of her mission or face execution. Throughout the book she reveals the circumstances that led her to her current situation. She talks about learning to fly, about her best friend, who was also the pilot of the crashed plane, and much more. Has her best friend survived? Will she be able to live long enough to be rescued? How does the story end?

 

So all of this sounds really suspenseful, however, I found the book completely tedious. It has gotten amazing reviews, and very few people have had anything negative to say about the book. I apologize ahead of time. While the words were written eloquently, the only thing that kept me reading were the reviews. I kept waiting, and saying to myself, it just starts slowly, yet it never picked up. There were a lot of technical references to flying and airplanes, which was not what deterred me. It just felt like the beginning of a fairly boring story for most of the book. So after all that, I will add this…The end was good. It read in a way that I would have loved the first 300 pages to read. I guess it just wasn’t my style.