Monday, 28 November 2011

Just Finished: Smudge's Mark by Claudia Osmond

Isn't that a great cover? The key is obviously very important. I bet you want to know what's so important about it, don't you? I'm not going to tell! You'll have to read the book yourself to find out.

I don't read a lot of MG (middle grade) novels. If I read below my age level (not telling), it's either a young adult novel or I'm reading a story to my kids (see my post "My Top Five Books for Kids"). But when I do pick up a MG novel I find the trick to really, really, really enjoy it is to go inside and find that eleven, twelve, thirteen-year old version of yourself and let them read the book for you. Apparently my twelve-year old counterpart has a crush on a boy named Smudge (Simon Mugford).

Smudge has all the key ingredients necessary for my crush:
1. Shy with a mysterious past - always a great combination
2. Loyal
3. Courageous
4. Adventurous!
5. Older (than my twelve-year old self, not my real age self - still not telling!)

My younger self was easily caught up in Smudge's adventures; from being sent to a horrible boarding school by his grandfather's nasty housekeeper, Griselda, to discovering a portal to another world. Each adventure leads him closer to discovering the truth about who he is, what happened to his parents and what the key has to do with it all!

Good buy for an actual middle grader or the one you keep inside :)

Click here for more about the book and author.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Just Finished: The Yo Yo Prophet by Karen Krossing

Calvin Layne has a lot going wrong for him. His mother died, his father took off and his grandmother, who is taking care of him, is sick. Not to mention the fact that a school bully named Rozelle has her sights set on him. His only escape from reality is his yo-yo...

...and so I entered the world of the Yo-Yo Prophet! I read this in one sitting. Every time I finished a page I wanted to turn it and keep reading–so I did :) I got caught up in Calvin's world of yo-yo's and the author does a great job of describing all the tricks. Calvin is definitely a character you cheer for; a teenage boy facing lots of life's hardships and finding a positive outlet for it. Plus (for all you parents out there), there is a good lesson on the consequences of lying and the chance of redemption. If you've got a pre-teen/teenage boy on your Christmas list, this is a good buy...along with a yo-yo (make sure it's a good one).

Do I recommend this book? Most definitely!

Bonus: This book made me realize how cool yo-yo's are which lead to me to YouTubing yo-yo videos after I finished reading the book. There is some pretty amazing stuff out there. My husband watched with an open mouth over my shoulder and then demanded that I email him the links to the videos I was watching! I think I know what's going in his stocking this year ;)

Visit the author's blog to read why she wrote about yo-yo's and to check out her other books!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Reading: "My" Top Five Books for Kids

Okay, when I say "my" top five, I really mean my daughter's top five. She's three and I have loved introducing her to the world of books. We have lots and lots of books at our house. I have even designated the bottom shelves of our little library to books just for my kids (I also have a one-year old son). It's a place where they can access them whenever they want; they don't have to ask, they can just grab one and read. Of all the books I read to my daughter, here are her five most requested no particular order:

1. Read With Me Bible for Toddlers by Doris Rikkers/Illustrated by Dennis G. Jones (Zondervan Kidz)

With lots of fun and colourful illustrations and the perfect amount words, this is the perfect Bible for little kids. Doris does a wonderful job of condensing very long bible stories into short little ones that my daughter wants to read over and over again. Her favourite is Jonah and the Big Fish!

2. Clara and the Bossy by Ruth Ohi (Annex Press)

Clara has a new best friend...who is very bossy! A great book to help kids know that they can stand up for themselves (in a nice way). Plus, my daughter's name is Clara so she thinks this book was written just for her!
3. Cinderella by Max Eilenberg/Illustrated by Niamh Sharkey (Candlewick)

This is a wonderfully illustrated version of an old classic. Max Eilenburg adapted the original Cinderella, the one with three balls, which is very important because Cinderella has three dresses. Niamh Sharkey's whimsical and humorous illustrations are a big hit.

4. Grumpy Bird/Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard (Scholastic Press)

When Bird woke up, he was GRUMPY! One of my favourites to read because I get to do lots of fun voices for Bird and all his animal friends. Boo Hoo Bird is equally enjoyable.

5. It's Best to be "Me" by Salvatore Puglisi (Booksurge Publishing)

A story about animals who were not happy being themselves. So what happens if a rabbit wants to be a turtle and a turtle wants to be a rabbit? Why, you get a Rabburtle! Clara loves the 'silly' animals that are created when two animals are combined. Plus, it's a fun game to play in the car when they are bored.

Speaking of being bored...this is an eagerly anticipated book in our house:

(Simon & Schuster, Books for Young Readers) 
Coming in September 2012

If that classic bored pose on the front cover doesn't say it all, I don't know what will!

What's your top five books for kids?