Posted in Adult Literature, Children's Lit, Young Adult Lit

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

9737Ender’s Game
Orson Scott Card
1977 TOR
ISBN – 9780765317384
Genre – Science Fiction
Age – Middle School, High School, Adult
4 Stars

 

In a world where each family can only have two children, Ender is a “Third.” Each child is tested to see if they qualify to attend battle school. Here they train to join the army that must kill an alien army that attacked humans many years before. At six years old, Ender is the most promising candidate that the military leaders have identified to lead the human army to a victory. He trains by playing war games and simulated battles. As his training goes on, Ender is thrown into more harsh and desperate situations in battle as well as his personal life. Is Ender really the savior that humans have been waiting for? Can he help protect humans from an alien invasion and impending war?

This is definitely a classic for a reason. I really appreciate that it has such wide appeal. I have seen an eleven year old enjoy it as much as a fifty year old. Honestly, I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. This book has it all, adventure, conflict, heartbreak, friendship, action, and surprise. The entire time I was reading it, I had to remind myself of how old Ender and his friends are. They live in a world and are thrust into a situation in which they are forced to mature unbelievably early, yet they take it in stride. Card has created scenarios in such detail that I became so immersed that I forgot I was reading a work of fiction. I laughed, I teared up, and my jaw dropped all within a few pages. If you haven’t read it yet, you should probably add it to the list.

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Posted in Picture Books

Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier

16057548Brief Thief
Michael Escoffer
Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
2013 Enchanted Lion Books
ISBN – 9781592701315
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
3.5 Stars

 

After Leon enjoyed his breakfast, and sunned on a rock, he had to poo. Yup you read that right, he had to poo. He finds a good place to go, but when he is done he realizes there is no toilet paper. He frantically searches and finds a pair of holey underwear. He finishes up his business and goes on his way. But then he hears a voice, it is his conscience telling him that he may have fouled underwear that belonged to someone else. His conscience forces him to scrub the underwear and hang it to dry where it was found.

I thought Brief Thief was great, for the most part. I thought the beginning was hilarious in its abruptness, and the end has a hilarious surprise that I won’t give away. I just thought the middle in which Leon is being lectured by his conscience was a bit excessive. It is one thing to have your conscience tell you right and wrong, but it was a bit too much of a rant for me. Aside from that I think kids will really love this book. Not only is the text hilarious, but the illustrations are as well. They are not bold, but they are not dull. They have a sort of Goldilocks “just right” feeling. They are rough and whimsical and they just plain made me laugh. 
 
 

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

6936382Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
2008 Random House/Listening Library
ISBN – 9780307968524
Genre – Realistic Fiction, Audiobook
Age – High School
2.5 Stars

 

Anna is entering her senior year of high school when her lame father decides she needs to be more cultured. His solution is to send her to a boarding school in Paris. This means that she will have to leave her best friend Bridge, her gorgeous crush Toff, and the amazing senior year she was planning on having. Upon arriving in Paris she immediately feels very isolated due to lack of friends and the language barrier of course. However, she quickly falls into place with a new group of friends, one that includes and even more gorgeous British guy. Only one problem, he has a girlfriend. Throughout the year Anna faces the good, the bad, and the ugly facets of her life. She may have to learn that she can’t always get what she wants.

This is a very light and easy read (or listen.) Since I have gotten a job to which I commute over two hours a day, I have been listening to a lot more books. It was nice to have a relaxing book to listen to for once, as I usually read or listen to pretty intense action, fantasy, apocalyptic type books. However, as the book went on, I got more and more annoyed with the narrator. At first I just didn’t like her British boy’s voice, then I got annoyed with every male voice. By the end, I hated every voice and every intonation and emotion. So if I could look past that and pretend that I read it, and had my own awesome voices, I would say this book is a solid OK. For 90% of the book, I really thought Anna was a terrible selfish human being. At times I got a glimmer of hope from her thoughts and actions, but soon after she would make me regret that hope. The bright part of this, is that most 17 year old girls are selfish human beings, and she really did think and speak the way I would expect from someone of her age. Not a bad book for those who really enjoy realistic teen girl fiction!

Posted in Picture Books

Sipping Spiders Through a Straw by Kelly Dipucchio

0-439-58401-9Sipping Spiders Through a Straw: Campfire Songs for Monsters
Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by Gris Grimly
2008 Scholastic Press
ISBN – 9780439584012
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Elementary School
4 Stars

 

This picture book is full of creepy crawly campfire songs. Each one is screamed, howled, or gurgled to the tune of some other famous songs. Some songs include 99 Bottles of Blood on the Wall, Home of the Strange (to the tune of Home on the Range,) and Do Your Guts Hang Low (Do Your Ears Hang Low.) The songs are clever and fun, and some are pretty gory as well. They are also super easy to use for a sing along. These song would be amazing for Halloween events, and storytimes. One thing to note that the pictures are awfully creepy, maybe too creepy for the younger audiences. However, older kids in middle school and even high school might enjoy the super weird art work.

Posted in Picture Books

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson

5280620The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School
Laurie Halse Anderson
Illustrated by Ard Hoyt
2009 Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780689858093
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4 Stars

 

Zoe has wild red hair that goes on forever. When she was a baby she needed two strollers, two high chairs, and two cribs. Her hair could open cookie jars, turn the TV on, pet the cat, play on the computer and more. When Zoe was in Kindergarten, her teacher encouraged her hair to be wild and wonderful, but this was not the case in first grade. Her new teacher, Ms. Trisk, said that school has rules and that her wild hair was not allowed in her class. Will Zoe ever be able to tame her wild hair?

This is a cute book. I like that it teaches a great lesson about being different. Children should embrace their differences the way Zoe and her family embraced her wild red hair. I love the illustrations, the lines are soft, as well as most of the colors, except for of course the bright red color of Zoe’s hair. I love the idea that her hair allows her to multi-task. Kids will love the goofy antics and disturbances that her hair causes in school, and how frustrated the teacher becomes. Many of the illustrations make her hair look like it is a monster that will take over when you try to contain it. The only way to make the hair behave is to let it be free!

Posted in Picture Books

What’s With This Room? by Tom Lichtenheld

2125683What’s with this Room?
Tom Lichtenheld
2005 Little, Brown and Company
ISBN – 9780316592864
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool, Early Elementary
4.5 Stars

 

The little boy’s room is so messy. His clothes are everywhere, his underwear hanging from the ceiling fan. He may even have dead monsters hiding under his bed. He’s got strange animals and vermin in his closet. With all this mess his parents wonder why he has never cleaned it up. The kid claims that it isn’t a mess and that everything is planned. It isn’t a mess, its science and art. He has an explanation for everything, that is until his latest science project has a small explosion.

This book is amazing. Each line has rhyme and rhythm which makes it fun to read and to listen. The illustrations are super fun. Most kids don’t enjoy cleaning up their room, and these pictures show what can happen if they wait too long. It is full of fun and imaginative creatures, that may actually scare the kids into cleaning, but more likely it will just make them giggle! Just when you think the little boy has justified it all, the story comes to an explosive ending…literally!

Posted in Children's Lit

Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde

2771426Stolen
Vivian Vande Velde
2008 Marshal Cavendish
ISBN – 9780761455158
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Middle School
3 Stars

 

Isabelle comes to consciousness running through the woods with a pack of dogs chasing her. She can’t remember who she is or where she comes from. One family comes forward and claims that she is their daughter who was stolen six years ago by the evil witch who lives in the forest. Their other daughter, an infant, was stolen the day before as well. After this the villagers storm her cottage and burn it down, possibly with the witch and their baby inside of it. Does Isabelle belong to this family? Does she have anything to do with the evil witch?

Stolen was a good book for late elementary and middle school kids. The story was just complex enough, without being complicated. It had mystery and suspense involved, but is not confusing. The characters have intrigue and depth. Honestly, I just didn’t connect to the story. It just didn’t have enough depth or content for me, but I think that mainly has to do with not being its intended audience. Tween books have never been my favorite.

Posted in Picture Books

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

5665292Rhyming Dust Bunnies
Jan Thomas
2009 Beach Lane Books
ISBN – 9781416979760
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler
5 Stars

 

Four little Dust Bunnies named Ed, Ned, Ted, and Bob like to rhyme all the time. One dust bunny asks “What rhymes with car?” Then they rattle off words that rhyme like far, jar, tar, and look! But wait a minute, look doesn’t rhyme with car. This goes on for a few different words, and the three rhyming dust bunnies have to tell Bob that his words don’t rhyme, but maybe Bob isn’t trying to rhyme!

This book is so much fun for toddlers and young at heart adults. Not only do the little ones get to practice their rhyming, but if they are really good they can point out Bob’s mistakes. The illustrations are great. They are basically just big colored fluffballs on bold colored background, which is easy for the kids to process. They all make goofy faces which show that they are having a grand time rhyming. There is a lot of value to this book, but on top of that it also has a really funny ending that will keep everyone involved giggling.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

15721624Orleans
Sherri L. Smith
2013 G. P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN – 9780399252945
Genre – Apocalyptic
Age – High School
3.5 Stars

 

After Hurricane Katrina, a string of even more powerful storms continued to hit the gulf coast. Delta fever has broken out, and the government has quarantined the area. Many years later, the people of the Outer States believe that life has been wiped out in the Gulf Coast, but this is far from the truth. A new type of civilization has sprung from the disaster, a world in which people form tribes based on their blood types. Fen de la Guerre is living with the O Positive tribe when they are attacked. During the attack her leader dies giving birth. Fen vows that she will get the baby out of the quarantined area. While making her way out she meets David, a scientist from the Outer States who is trying to find the cure for the Delta fever. Together they may be stronger than alone, but can they make it out alive?

The scariest thing about this book is that it is based on a very feasible situation. The first part of the story has already happened and we have seen stronger and stronger storms threaten our coasts. It would be nice to believe that if this situation occurred, that humanity would prevail, but we can’t really be sure of that. Smith writes in two different dialects, one for David and one for Fen. This allows the reader to really feel the difference in characters and their  backgrounds. One interesting point is that when disaster hits, it really matures the people affected. Although David and Fen are both fairly young, it is very easy to forget their age considering their attitudes. Just a warning for the faint of heart, there is a lot of violence and disturbing content throughout the book.

Posted in Picture Books

Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos

15814439Mustache Baby
Bridget Heos
Illustrated by Joy Ang
2013 Clarion Books
ISBN – 9780547773575
Genre – Picture Book
Age Preschool
4 Stars

When Billy was born, something was a little bit off. He had a mustache! When his parents asked the nurse about this, she explained that it could be a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache. At first it was obvious that his mustache was good, he protected his cattle, cared for injured animals, and mended broken fences. This continued until one day his mustache grew bigger and curled at the ends. It was turning into a bad guy mustache! He turned to a life of crime, and eventually ended up in jail. What will happen to Baby Billy?

It is hilarious to think of a baby as a good guy protecting the world around him, but it is even funnier to picture a baby becoming a criminal. The illustrations wonderfully compliment the hilarious text of Baby Mustache. Some pages are full of smaller pictures of his actions, both good and bad, but others are two page spreads of Baby Billy and his conquests in the world of Baby Mustaches. Although it breaks your heart to see poor Billy in jail, his parents soon bail him out and spring a great surprise on him!